The Natural Way

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Burning feet? Muscle cramps or weakness? Fatigue depression and sleep troubles? May be a lack of pantothenic acid in your diet.

This is a B-complex vitamin most often found in a well-rounded supplement called B-complex. Makes sense, doesn't it! It is also found in organ meats, lobsters, poultry, soybeans, lentils, split peas, yogurt, avocado, mushroom and sweet potato. In theory we should be getting enough pantothenic acid in our food, but if you are like me, you haven't had much lobster or organ meat lately.

This vitamin is essential for humans and critters alike. It is a precursor of co-enzymes and necessary for hundreds of different uses in our bodies. These include such things as energy production, metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, the building of nerves, normal steroid hormones and having proper amounts of red cells also known as hemoglobin. This is a short list! Pantothenic acid does more than I have space to write about.

Because it is involved in so much, if there is a deficiency we get a wide range of peculiar symptoms.

Research from other countries is interesting, to say the least. For instance, did you know in Japan medical treatment for dementia (including Alzheimer's) includes using a medicine that causes a deficiency of pantothenic acid? Guess what ... symptoms of Reyes Syndrome started showing up! Other studies have shown fetal growth retardation or even death in pantothenic acid-deficient animals.

Science does know that we can take a huge amount of it in supplement form before we start to have the worst side effect, which is only diarrhea. The level at which this happens is a whopping 10 to 20 grams per day. This would be a daily dose of 20 to 40 pills each day -- unlikely to happen! Most people, if they don't get enough from food, will supplement with a single B-Complex pill giving an extra 100 milligrams. If more is desired, it also is typically available in 500 milligram tablets with suggestion of one per day. Pantothenic acid in a time-release form is what I would do, and it is inexpensive.

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